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  Ottawa Moves Let Police Test Drivers for Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on April 27, 2004 at 07:59:27 PT
By Kim Lunman 
Source: Globe and Mail  

Canada Ottawa -- The federal government introduced legislation yesterday that would give police sweeping powers to charge drug-impaired drivers, including intrusive physical testing that would allow them to take saliva, blood and urine tests from motorists.

The new bill would amend the Criminal Code to give police the authority to demand roadside standardized field sobriety tests when they have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired by drugs.

It would also give investigators the right to administer drug recognition expert evaluations, known as DRE evaluations, in cases where the officer reasonably believes a drug-impaired driving offence was committed. The tests are administered at a police station after a driver fails a roadside test.

Police would be allowed to collect saliva, urine and blood samples to determine whether the driver has drugs, including marijuana, in his or her system. Refusal to comply would be a criminal offence.

"Ultimately, these provisions are about saving lives," Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said after tabling the bill in the House of Commons.

"It's not that we're making something a criminal offence that is not," Mr. Cotler said later. "The problem is that the police do not have the authority to elicit the evidence that will be needed for prosecutorial purposes."

The government wants to pass the legislation as quickly as possible because "the whole question of drug-impaired driving has emerged as such a serious offence and since a disproportionate number of fatalities occur as a result of drug-impaired driving."

Mr. Cotler said the legislation, which is being introduced at the same time the government is expediting a controversial bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, will give authorities more tools to charge and convict drug-impaired drivers.

Similar laws exist in most U.S. states and in Australia, New Zealand and some European countries. Police in Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba already use DRE evaluations, but only when a suspect participates voluntarily.

"All we're doing is providing [police] with the necessary authority, the necessary powers, in order to engage in drug-related testing in the same way that they do alcohol-related testing."

The Criminal Code does not give police the authority to demand physical sobriety tests or samples of body fluids for impaired-driving investigations. However, if a driver voluntarily participates in physical sobriety tests, the evidence is admissible on a Criminal Code charge.

Critics have accused the government of pressing ahead blindly with the amendments as it fast-tracks new marijuana legislation.

The Canadian Professional Police Association has called on the federal government to first implement a national drug strategy.

Spokeswoman Sophie Roux said the Ottawa-based association is reviewing the bill thoroughly.

"We want to have a good read of the legislation first before commenting," she said. "We did participate in consulting on the issue of drug-impaired driving."

The Canadian Bar Association has expressed concern that the new bill could infringe on Charter rights, including the rights against unreasonable search and arbitrary detention and the right to counsel.

"In our view," a submission from the association to the government on the proposed legislation last December stated, "stopping a driver at the roadside for intrusive physical testing, potentially followed by a breath sample and then saliva or sweat swabs, would change the nature of the stop so that the right to counsel would be engaged."

Mr. Cotler said the federal government believes the legislation will withstand Charter challenges.

The new bill comes as Ottawa is planning to relax marijuana laws, making possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less punishable by a fine instead of a criminal offence.

Complete Title: Ottawa Moves Let Police Test Drivers for Drug Impairment

Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Author: Kim Lunman
Published: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - Page A4
Copyright: 2004 The Globe and Mail Company

Related Articles & Web Site:

Cannabis News Canadian Links

MADD, Police Groups Slam Proposed Pot Law

Ottawa To Let Police Conduct Roadside Tests

Ottawa Proposes Changes To Allow Drug-Testing

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Comment #18 posted by Petard on April 27, 2004 at 16:17:18 PT
Field Sobriety Tests

Are flawed. Do you all realize that the ability to walk a straight line, touch your nose with your eyes closed, recite the alphabet from a random starting point, etc., is all based on the AVERAGE. In other words, 1/2 the non-influenced, straight as a nail, citizens will fail the test while stone cold sober. Any one of us has a 50/50 chance of passing/failing it at any given moment of any given day.

The whole intoxication measurement system is tremendously flawed. Anyone with a prescription for just about any medication, mind-altering, mood altering, reflex altering, vision altering, etc., can legally drive on any road at any time.

I still say, just go out and get just ONE measley little ol' script for Marinol if this law passes. You don't even have to fill it, just get the prescription on your next Dr.'s visit. Shoot's the whole THC metabolite testing in the foot since your script provides the basis for having the metabolites legally. There's no test to determine legal synthetic THC metabolites vs. natural metabolites from medicinal or recreational whole cannabis. Hell, they wanna push their synthetics and give a free pass to stoned immaculate opiate impaired drivers with a script, then use their own strategy against them. Get a Marinol script, keep it locked up safely at home, provide it as proof if ever needed that you're a legal driver using a legal medication that THEY recommended.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #17 posted by FoM on April 27, 2004 at 11:44:41 PT
Good job!

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #16 posted by afterburner on April 27, 2004 at 11:42:26 PT
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
Liberals introduce stoned driving law by Reverend Damuzi (27 Apr, 2004) Science shows pot makes safer drivers

'On April 24, 2004, the Liberal government introduced invasive new "drugged driving" laws that would allow cops to further persecute the marijuana community, despite science that shows pot can make drivers safer.' F U L L S T O R Y

Viewer discretion is advised as this article contains scenes of graphic violence and thought control.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by afterburner on April 27, 2004 at 11:29:39 PT
They Published a Small Potion of my LTE
"This proposed bill is premature and unnecessary as field sobriety tests demonstrate true impairment, if any." Frank Smith, Wawa, April 27

I hope they find the studies I sent them as useful. See Speak Out: Roadside tests to read what others are saying.

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Comment #14 posted by jose melendez on April 27, 2004 at 11:10:13 PT
Your comments are quite well received. Of course, as we have been pointing out for years, the other side wants to bust us for use, and not impairment. The proof is not only in their avoidance of criminalizing the use of protected dangerous and inferior products*, but also in the careful terms they use, like "second most common drug factor":

see also:

Marijuana Induces Minimum Driving Impairment Compared to Alcohol, Toronto Study Says


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Comment #13 posted by FoM on April 27, 2004 at 11:10:03 PT
And I agree with you too!

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Comment #12 posted by FoM on April 27, 2004 at 11:06:39 PT
I wanted to comment on the march for women's rights that was in Washington. I don't believe abortion is a solution that I could have ever used to control how many children I would have had but I also believe I don't know the reason why a woman would want an abortion but why should we judge a woman's decision when we have no idea why she feels like she does? That's what bothers me about the abortion issue. A woman should have a right to choose for herself. It's her body and her life. The same rights should be ours too concerning the use of Cannabis.

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Comment #11 posted by Virgil on April 27, 2004 at 10:58:12 PT
Testing is no panacea
I am for safe roads as much as anyone with any sense. There should always be priorities for consuming the limited resources of the people. Speed is the #1 problem with driving and what do they really do to bring about conformance? Running red lights is a big killer and maybe the money should install equipment to curb such practices.

What is suspicious in all of this is the call by Walters to promote testing as a panacea and it is just not so. Was there a public outcry for this testing that would be one hundredth of the outcry to reform the drug laws? There is already performance testing and probable cause should be because of errant driving. Improper equipment should not be probable cause for testing. The keywords are priorities and cost. Just what is this program going to cost and what will the real benefit be? It all seems lacking of a call to action and the real information of what the action will mean. Then there is the slippery slope.

This is a test of the media you are following. How many know that the record for the largest march on Washington was broken on Sunday when a million Americans stood up for women's rights to choose-

This concerns the ONCDP and their sister in propaganda PFDFA and the ads demonizing estcasy by saying "Ecstasy is as dangerous as sticking dynamite up your butt"-

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Comment #10 posted by BIgDawg on April 27, 2004 at 10:38:24 PT
I agree whole heartedly.

IMHO, one of the biggest problems prohibition has brought us... is that the cops are no longer seen as the friendly neighborhood peace officer.

Stop the WOD... bring back the PEACE OFFICERS...

And let then focus on crimes that have victims.

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Comment #9 posted by FoM on April 27, 2004 at 10:23:22 PT
I understand what you mean. I don't want to be on the road with impaired drivers either but how should society deal with this issue is the question. I think that personal responsibility should be the way it is approached. If a policeman sees a person weaving he should pull him over and put him in a drunk tank until he or she gets their senses back. It is too hard for police to be alert to those who are dangerous and drug testing is a scapegoat for them and that isn't right. I also believe that police should live in the neighborhood that they police. Things would change that way.

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Comment #8 posted by BigDawg on April 27, 2004 at 09:50:00 PT
This may not be popular here...
... but I honestly have no problem with testing for impairment of drivers.

What I DO have a problem with is selective testing of cannabis over more widely used prescription drugs. And of testing for cannabis metabolites... which doesn't test for CURRENT impairment.

I agree that all research has shown cannabis to have minimal impact on driving. But I wouldn't argue too loudly against such testing if they had to show reasonable suspicion of impairment first, and tested for current impairment.

But all that is too much to ask for the power hungry prohibs.

Nothing wrong with not wanting impaired drivers on the road, but there IS something wrong with not testing for pharmaceuticals... and there IS something wrong with not testing for current impairment.

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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on April 27, 2004 at 09:22:27 PT
Use em all ...
Good deal, Afterburner ...

Everyone make a copy my findings ... they are accurate.

Some of those studies are online.

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Comment #6 posted by afterburner on April 27, 2004 at 09:03:03 PT
I sent a LTE through the Toronto Star Speak Out using your DOT studies, a link to the Senate Committee Report, and the following Cannabis/Driving Studies:

Australia: No Proof Cannabis Put Drivers At Risk (2001)

UK: Cannabis May Make You A Safer Driver (2000)

University Of Toronto Study Shows Marijuana Not A Factor In Driving Accidents (1999)\1999\03\990325110700.htm

Australia: Cannabis Crash Risk Less: Study (1998)

Australia: Study Goes to Pot (1998)

It made a longish letter, probably too long to get published, but if the reporters follow up on the links to the studies and reports, then the job is partly done.

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by RasAric on April 27, 2004 at 09:02:35 PT
off subject
Just watched a documentary on the History channel on alcohol prohibition. It made note of the NASCAR circuit being established by bootleggers/moonshine distributers.

NASCAR is one of Prohibitionist President(non-elect)Bush's main target Audiences in the campaign arena. If NASCAR fans knew the history and origins of NASCAR and were aware of the intentions of our dry drunk President I wonder how popular Bush would be with them.

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Comment #4 posted by Marc Paquette on April 27, 2004 at 09:01:48 PT:

And this new law called Bill C-32 will open a wide variety of other drugs to be tested also, whether the drug is a legal pharmaceutical or an illegal drug. And if you refuse the test, it's a $600 fine! Just another's of our goverment's evil plans on the cannabis prohibition, because most accidents are caused by drunk drivers and not drugged drivers.

What if someone is on a legal anti-depressant and feels a bit drowsy, or what if it's valium, codeine, morphine patch, Oxycontin, cannabis, etc...They are not the cause of ALL those accidents either.

It's just more repression and discrimination from our government. If most MP's at the Parliament are smart and sensitive enough, they will realize that this Bill is nonsense and it impedes on our privacy and it also discriminates on the sick (or) dying citizen that really need some of these drugs to improve their quality of life and survive a bit longer.



[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by FoM on April 27, 2004 at 08:57:26 PT
Portion of Article and Link
Washington Bound

National Post

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Marijuana. With legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana pending in Parliament, the stridently anti-pot White House is issuing dire warnings about how Canada is undermining the U.S. "war on drugs." But Mr. Martin should make no apologies. Indeed, he should take the offensive, and urge the President to learn from Canada's more progressive approach. As Eric Schlosser eloquently argued on the op-ed page of yesterday's New York Times, America's draconian policy on marijuana is grossly out of proportion to the threat the drug poses.

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Comment #2 posted by Dankhank on April 27, 2004 at 08:22:35 PT
Once more into the breach ...
DOT HS 808 078 “Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance” Final Report, Nov. 1993 Conclusions on page 108 of the copy I received from the NHTSA are interesting and informative. A sample : “It is possible to safely study the effects of marijuana on driving on highways or city streets in the presence of other traffic.” “Drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to over-estimate the adverse effects of the drug on their driving ability and compensate when they can; e.g. by increasing effort to accomplish the task, increasing headway or slowing down, or a combination of these.”

DOT HS 808 939 “Marijuana, Alcohol and Actual Driving Performance” July 1999 Conclusion on page 39 midway of paragraph 5.1of the copy I received: The addition of the new data, (for marijuana), broadens the range of reactions that may be expected to occur in real life. This range has not been shown to extend into the area that can rightfully be regarded as dangerous or an obviously unacceptable threat to public safety.

DOT HS 809 020 “Visual Search and Urban City Driving under the Influence of Marijuana and Alcohol” March 2000: Conclusion 1 on page 24 of the copy I received. “Low doses of marijuana taken alone, did not impair city driving performance and did not diminish visual search frequency for traffic at intersections in this study.”

General Discussion on page 22. Previous on-the-road studies have also demonstrated that subjects are generally aware of the impairing properties of THC and try to compensate for the drug’s impairing properties by driving more carefully (Hansteen et al, 1976; Casswell, 1979; Peck et al, 1986; Robbe 1994).

DOT HS 809 642 “State of Knowledge of Drug Impaired Driving” Sept 2003: Experimental Research of Cannabis, page 41 midway: “The extensive studies by Robbe and O’Hanlon (1993), revealed that under the influence of Marijuana, drivers are aware of their impairment, and when experimental tasks allow it, they tend to actually decrease speed, avoid passing other cars, and reduce other risk-taking behaviors.”

DOT HS 808 065 “The Incidence and Role of Drugs in Fatally Injured Drivers” Oct. 1992 In discussing the “Distribution of Ratings on Driver Responsibility” Table 5.12 page 64 of the copy I received, paragraph (p.65); “Responsibility , drugs and alcohol, third paragraph, ”the following appears: “Note that the responsibility rates of the THC-only and cocaine-only groups are actually lower than that of the drugfree drivers. Although these results too are inconclusive, they give no suggestion of impairment in the two groups. The low responsibility rate for THC was reminiscent of that found in young males by Williams and colleagues (1986). This study is remarkable in it’s propensity to attack itself as inconclusive.

Forensic Science Review Vol. 14, Number One/Two, Jan 2002, surely must be the reference of note regarding metabolic functions and where the THC goes following ingestion. This review discuses THC and it’s metabolites; THCCOOH, 11-OH-THC to mention the most discussed. Location and type of measured quantities of these and other metabolites should be easy to use to determine if a driver is “stoned” or was stoned yesterday, or last week. Mention was made of a man who had measurable levels of metabolites sixty-seven days after ingesting Cannabis.

Chap IX paragraph D, “Summary” appears to be of two minds. While stating: “Studies examining Cannabis’ causal effect through responsibility analysis have more frequently indicated that THC alone did not increase accident risk …” it continues optimistically suggesting that further exhaustive research may rebut that.

All of the studies agree that Cannabis shouldn't be in combination with Alcohol ... a major deleterious effect on driving skills, as is benzoates with Cannabis … it rapidly becomes evident that Cannabis in combination with any number of other drugs is not to be desired, but that Cannabis and Cocaine alone in all six studies have the smallest perceived safety risk of all the drugs and drug combinations tested.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #1 posted by afterburner on April 27, 2004 at 08:07:16 PT
Same Story in the Toronto Star w/ Speak Out
Drugged drivers targeted [Toronto Star] Apr. 27, 2004. 07:51 AM

"Drivers suspected of being high on over-the-counter, prescription or illegal drugs could be forced to give police saliva, urine or blood samples on demand under proposed changes to the Criminal Code introduced yesterday. Tonda MacCharles reports." Speak Out: Roadside tests | [Full Story]

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